Steven Goodman does a lot of good at the Educational Video Center with his documentary workshops, where students spend their time brainstorming and winnowing ideas until they reach a consensus on a topic of their choice on which to produce a documentary film. The fact that a trend in reoccurring topics arises each year is of no surprise, in this society, where topics involving both youth, crime and violence meet the repercussions in today’s society and see the lack in variation of how youth meet an almost pre-determined fate to end up in the prison system. Through Goodman’s writing, we read about how the urban social world is described by these kids, and Goodman and the EVC mentors “work with the teens to develop these topics further, so that they have depth and scope for themselves and viewers [….],” because after all, that is the key to self-understanding, having a better understanding of our society, and having a foundation for knowing how to confront these frustrating sources.
“Instead of watching the clock like in school, they lose track of time — arriving early, working into the evenings, on weekends and even school holidays – they are in the “flow.” They learn to ask their own questions, uncover problems, propose solutions, and follow their explorations where ever they may lead. They present their final documentary, to public audiences of friends, family, teachers, and community members. Their work is validated in all its richness and creativity not with a single number or letter grade, but as it should be: through community appreciation, questioning, conversation and reflection.” –EVC
The second cluster of topics that remain a repeated trend include the entertainment industry and its influence on how they wish for their involvement to one day help them “escape mundane invisibility.”
Who has social authority? What topics dominate the lives of these youth? The journey from adolescents to adulthood for low income, minority youth can be grueling and the problems they face can be addressed through documentary film, as they are identified and explored for conversation by these youth. As a sense of powerlessness grows, their actions may respond to two systems of authority that have rendered low-income, minority youth to feel voiceless: institutions and mass media.
Goodman reveals the two very different narratives that have shaped and determined how inner-city, minorities are ‘dealt’ with and through the EVC Doc workshops, those rendered voiceless are given documentary filmmaking as a platform to tell their stories, their POV’s, their stories, to reclaim their voices and to respond to these two systems of authority that have, for too long, exploited them.
This class, Media and Social Change, has done the same thing for me. I feel it has given me a way to see how a voiceless person can reclaim a sense of self-awareness and authority through video rather than through impulsive actions or submitting to behaviors that ultimately “give-in” to these systems of authority. It’s empowering to see how different mediums can help one reclaim his voice in a very overwhelming society.